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Mike From Mesa

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  • State of the Union

  • By: Brad Thor
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,393
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,990
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,983

The most unlikely terrorist enemy of all now holds a knife against the country’s throat. With both diplomatic and conventional military options swept from the table, the president calls upon Navy SEAL turned Secret Service agent Scot Harvath to disable a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy intended to bring the United States to its knees. Teamed with beautiful Russian Intelligence agent Alexandra Ivanova and a highly trained CIA paramilitary detachment, Harvath embarks on an adrenaline-fueled search that spans the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thrilling!

  • By Loray on 01-31-11

The triumph of hope over experience

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-18

This is my fifth Brad Thor book and, with the possible exception of Blowback, they all seem to suffer from the same issues. The plots are all clever and the writing is decent, but I never seem to feel any connection with the characters. This book is no different. We have an interesting plot with agents having to unravel several mysteries and perform several more largely impossible tasks, and since there is a follow-on book in the Scot Harvath series, we can be sure they will probably succeed, but nowhere along the line do I really care about the characters or 'who did it'.

I have most of the Jack Reacher series and when I start one of those books I have a hard time putting it down. I want to know what happens, who the villain is, what the subplot is and I care about Reacher even though I know he will be fine because there is another book in the series. The characters connect with me. Scott Harvath never has.

The book is narrated by George Guidall and, like all of the other books I have that he has narrated, he does a splendid job, but the characters never seem to be anything more than 2 dimensional. I will try to avoid being seduced by the plot of any more of this series as it just seems like a waste of my time and my credits. If, on the other hand, you have liked previous Scot Harvath books, you will probably like this one as well.

  • American Ulysses

  • A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
  • By: Ronald C. White
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 27 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,047
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,895
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,881

A major new biography of the Civil War general and American president, by the author of the New York Times bestseller A. Lincoln. The dramatic story of one of America's greatest and most misunderstood military leaders and presidents, this is a major new interpretation of Ulysses S. Grant. Based on seven years of research with primary documents, some of them never tapped before, this is destined to become the Grant biography of our times.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Absolutely Superb Work

  • By Michael J. Nardotti, Jr. on 11-05-16

Absolutely wonderful.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-16-18

I was uncertain about buying this book since I had already read all the volumes of Grant's autobiography as well as quite a few books about Grant's and Sherman's campaigns during the Civil War and I feared that purchasing it would be a waste of my time and money. I was wrong.

When I was in public school the history classes that covered the Civil War referred to Grant as a poor commander, someone who wasted human lives and only won because of the overwhelming numbers of Federal troops, and that was a view I carried with me as I became an adult, and it only began to change as I started to read newer books covering the war. Shelby Foote's multi-volume history made me start to believe that perhaps what I had been taught in school was wrong and, as I read more and more books about the campaigns in the West, I became increasingly convinced that my what I thought I knew of Grant and his generalship was wrong, and badly so.

American Ulysses is so well written that in spite of all I had previously read about Grant and his campaigns my interest never flagged and I found it difficult to stop listening. Arthur Morey's narration is so well suited to the material that time flew as I listened to the book and I found myself looking forward to listening to more the next day. The book is more of a biography than a retelling of the battles of the war and the narrative never gets bogged down in military details of how the battle progressed, but still manages to cover what happened and why.

A large part of the book covers Grant's life after Appomattox, his issues with the Johnson administration and his two terms as President and covers his efforts to insure that those freed by the Civil War were able to exercise their rights as citizens. All of this was new to me as it was never covered in my public school classes and was not in any of the Civil War books I read, but Grant was committed to insuring real freedom and citizenship for those freed by the war and his battles to try to insure the former slaves their freedom is covered in detail, as are the reasons for the failure of that effort.

Perhaps the most poignant parts of the book cover the period of his life when this man, so able to sort the wheat from the chaff in his generals, failed to see how he was taken advantage of by those he trusted. Mr White, and history, have shown that although Grant's administration was plagued by financial scandals, he himself was never touched by a hint of those scandals and left office with his honor and honesty intact. The final scandal, which bankrupted him, again involved those he trusted and his actions in trying to repay those debts that fell on him, only again proves how honest a man he was.

This is a wonderful biography, full of information new to me, wonderfully written and wonderfully narrated, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in General Grant and his life.

  • Augustus

  • First Emperor of Rome
  • By: Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 18 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 687
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 629
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 622

Caesar Augustus's story, one of the most riveting in western history, is filled with drama and contradiction, risky gambles and unexpected success. He began as a teenage warlord, whose only claim to power was as the heir of the murdered Julius Caesar. Mark Antony dubbed him "a boy who owes everything to a name," but in the years to come the youth outmaneuvered all the older and more experienced politicians and was the last man standing in 30 BC.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You know my name...say it.

  • By Steven on 12-10-14

The man who owed everything to a name

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

Who are the great historic figures? As a general rule we seem to consider those who had a great impact on their times and subsequent history as great, but if you were to ask people to name the great figures from Roman history you would likely get the names Julius Caesar, Cicero, perhaps the two Catos and Sulla. You might also get the names of some of the more notorious Roman emperors, Caligula and Nero, but would probably not get the name Augustus, although he had a far more lasting impact on Roman history than any of the others, including Julius Caesar. Perhaps Mr Goldsworthy is right in saying that part of that reason is that Shakespeare never wrote a tragedy about him, but his story, from being the young adopted son of Julius Caesar to his rise in power to being the most powerful and long lasting figure in Rome, is nothing short of astonishing and this book does a great service in explaining how the young Gaius Octavius rose to become the most powerful man in Rome and to live long enough to die peacefully in his bed at the age of 77.

This is the second of Mr Goldsworthy's biographies that I have read, the first being that of Julius Caesar, and the two books blend together nicely with the story of the young Octavius picking up with the assassination of Julius Caesar and, while the history of the Roman Civil War that stemmed from that event is interesting enough itself, the story of how young Octavius became Caesar Augustus, ruled Rome in a veiled monarchy and implemented relatively honest government was far more interesting to me. The fact that he was not a great general but relied upon his friend and associate Agrippa for many of his victories just seems to prove how great a man he was.

Mr Goldsworthy's writing is, as always, first class, and the story never failed in holding my interest. One of the things that I have found appealing in Mr Goldswrothy's writing is his constant honesty and even-handedness. When there is more than one explanation as to what might have happened, or in the circumstances surrounding some event, he always gives all of the possibilities along with his belief as to which is correct and why, and he never states conjecture as fact or describes the thoughts in the head of someone whose thoughts he could not possibly have known. The writing is straight forward and clear, the descriptions easy to understand and the influence of previous events always described. In short this is a great book, read wonderfully by Derek Perkins, and the reader can not fail to come away with a better understanding of the Rome of this period.

One last comment. Some have described Caesar Augustus as the cause of the end of the Roman Republic, but this book and the biography of Julius Caesar have done much to make clear that the Roman Republic actually died a long time before young Octavius set out to avenge his father's assassination. Julius Caesar stated that the Roman Republic was dead long before he brought his army back from Gaul and became dictator and Mike Duncan's book The Storm Before The Storm dates the decline and death of the Roman Republic back to the days of Pompey The Great and possibly earlier. If anything this book makes a strong case that Augustus' actions did more to save Rome than to destroy it, although those actions led directly to the excesses of some of the subsequent Emperors and the result of some generals plotting to become the next Emperor.

A great book, excellently read. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.



  • Commune

  • Commune, Book 1
  • By: Joshua Gayou
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,017
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,808
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,795

For dinosaurs, it was a big rock. For humans: Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). When the Earth is hit by the greatest CME in recorded history (several times larger than the Carrington Event of 1859), the combined societies of the planet's most developed nations struggle to adapt to a life thrust back into the Dark Ages. In the United States, the military scrambles to speed the nation's recovery on multiple fronts including putting down riots, establishing relief camps, delivering medical aid, and bringing communication and travel back on line. Just as a real foothold is established in retaking the skies (utilizing existing commercial aircraft supplemented by military resources and ground control systems), a mysterious virus takes hold of the population, spreading globally over the very flight routes that the survivors fought so hard to rebuild.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I want to adopt the characters into my family

  • By yarginator on 11-27-17

A good book about life in the apocalypse

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

I have read a lot of books about possible apocalyptic events going all the way back to Philip Wylie and Edwin Balme's "When Worlds Collide", John Wyndham's "Day of the Triffids", Larry Niven's "Footfall" and Stephen King's "The Stand", but I mostly stopped buying them when they turned into Zombie books because I found most of those to be nothing but violence and killing with the only differences being how to kill the Zombies. There were some bright spots, like William R. Forstchen's "One Second After", but those were hard to find.

Given that I thought that this book was a welcome find. Here we have a world gone back to basics by the combined actions of a large Coronal Mass Ejection and a devastation plague, with only a few people left alive. As expected, the book deals with efforts to survive in a very hostile environment where normal interactions between people have become dangerous and the bounds of propriety have ceased to exist. What makes this book interesting are the characters involved and the way the tale is told, with four main characters who meet and form a family of sorts and try to survive in a world where all of the norms have disappeared. While there is violence, most of the story is basically the tales of the people, all of whom seem both reasonably drawn and normal. There are no Rambos here, no people with abnormal abilities and no situations that seem out of reason given the premise of the story. I found I cared about all of them, about what happened to them and what their futures might hold, and I plan to buy the sequel to see how the story continues to unfold.

If you are looking for Zombies, this is not your book. If you are looking for the tale of people trying to survive in a world irrevocably changed, where danger lurks everywhere and life hangs at a thread, you might want to give this book a try. It is the best book of this type that I have read since "One Second After" and, although different in many ways, is as good as that book was.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Darkest Hour

  • How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink
  • By: Anthony McCarten
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 559
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 491
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 488

May 1940. Britain is at war, Winston Churchill has unexpectedly been promoted to prime minister, and the horrors of Blitzkrieg witness one Western European democracy fall after another in rapid succession. Facing this horror, with pen in hand and typist-secretary at the ready, Churchill wonders what words could capture the public mood when the invasion of Britain seems mere hours away. It is this fascinating period that Anthony McCarten captures in this deeply researched and wonderfully written new book, The Darkest Hour.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping

  • By Jean on 12-06-17

The power of speech

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This book covers a short period of time from Churchill becoming Prime Minister to the end of the Dunkirk evaluation and centers on some of the great speeches Mr Churchill gave that convinced his fellow MPs that he was the right man for the job, that he meant to fight Germany with everything Britain had and that they had a chance of victory. The speeches involved contain some of the greatest quotes from Churchill and Mr McCarten looks at the speeches to see why they were so influential and how they saved Great Britain.

But the book is more than just a look at his speeches, how they were written and the effect they had. It is also a pocket history of the events so that the speeches are put into the proper perspective given the events of the time. There are some old recordings that Churchill made of these speeches after they were given (recording was not allowed in Parliament) and they were powerful enough to bring chills to me listening to them more than 75 years after they were originally given, and this book shows the power of a well delivered speech to motivate, encourage and inspire a people to do what is necessary. This book is a good addition to any collection of books about one of the most momentous periods in history when freedom literally balanced on the edge of a knife.

In my life I have probably read more than 100 books about this period of time, and while none of the information in this book is really new to me, given when I had already learned from previous books, this book is unique in that it concentrates on a critical period when it become possible for life to triumph over death, for freedom to conquer slavery and for the right to win against a dark and terrible force.

Recommended for anyone interested in the history of World War II.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Eagle's Prey

  • Eagles of the Empire, Book 5
  • By: Simon Scarrow
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 125
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 114

It is late summer AD 44, and the battle-weary Roman legions are in their second year of campaigning against the British tribes. The troops' commander, General Plautius, is under pressure from the emperor to crush the natives once and for all. Centurions Macro and Cato are with the crack Second Legion under the precarious leadership of Centurion Maximus, and it's their task to hold a ford across the river Tamesis when the natives are forced into a trap.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Solid Book.

  • By Timothy on 09-09-17

Decimation

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

Macro and Cato are in trouble again, and this time it is very serious for Cato as his century has been selected for Decimation due to an order from a disgraced Centurian that led to a lost battle, and he and his men must find a way to elude the Legions looking for them and win their way back into the good graces of the army.

The story, as usual, is gripping and the descriptions seem as accurate as ever, but what makes these novels so interesting for me is that the characters involved seem full-fleshed and real, the situations they find themselves in seem reasonable, at least for those Roman times, and I find that I care about them as though they were real people. Mr Scarrow's writing is, as always, sharp, clean and gripping and the narration is as fine as ever. I know they will come through their troubles since there are other books following this one, but it always seems as though it is impossible and the tension comes at least as much as how they will do it as if they will do it.

Another wonderful book for those interested in the Roman Legions and the trial and tribulations of Macro and Cato.

  • Gone Tomorrow

  • A Jack Reacher Novel
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,686
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,443
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,438

In a novel that slams through one hairpin surprise after another, Lee Child unleashes a thriller that spans three decades and gnaws at the heart of America...and for Jack Reacher, a man who trusts no one and likes it that way, it's a mystery with only one answer the kind that comes when you finally get face-to-face and look your worst enemy in the eye.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Much ado/nothing

  • By Richard on 05-27-09

You need a strong stomach

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This was probably my least favorite Jack Reacher novel.

The story revolves around an attempt to retrieve some classified information and you really do not know who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are until about half way through the story. As usual Reacher is working on his own to try to find out what is really happening, but the story did not have the same satisfying feel for me that the other books had. First, some of Reacher's basic assumptions turn out to be completely wrong, second, I found the story line to be too much of a stretch for me and lastly, perhaps most importantly, I found myself literally unable to listen to parts of the story involving the description of a video and had to skip ahead. The Reacher books always involve some violence, but this is the first one I have read that was too graphic for me to be able to listen to.

Dick Hill's narration was as fine as ever and kept me listening even when I had given up on the story. I do recommend the book but without the strong recommendation I would give to most of the others. Personally I think Reacher is more in his element when working to uncover secrets in less urban areas where he is more on his own and not relying on the local police for whatever help they can provide, but that is probably just me.

  • English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable

  • By: Lacey Baldwin Smith
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 790
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 711
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 712

Here at last is a history of England that is designed to entertain as well as inform and that will delight the armchair traveler, the tourist, or just about anyone interested in history. No people have engendered quite so much acclaim or earned so much censure as the English: extolled as the Athenians of modern times, yet hammered for their self-satisfaction and hypocrisy. But their history has been a spectacular one.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thoroughly enjoyable history

  • By Dennis K. on 11-23-17

Wonderful overview of English history

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This is a very interesting overview of English history. At just short of 10 hours it is far too short to cover even a small part of that history in any depth (G. J. Meyer's The Tudors, which covers only the Tudor monarchy, is more than twice the length of this book), but is a very interesting and enjoyable summary of that history. It starts with Caesar's invasion of the British Isles (55 BC) and goes through to the 20th century covering only those topics that the author considers to be relevant to English history. Thus the discussion of Henry VIII's rule, which often takes volumes, is covered in less than 30 minutes and is restricted to the core historical events - the break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries - and largely ignores the more salacious story of his multiple marriages and the ends of his wives.

The book makes no pretense of being a true history of England, but does cover the main events and the lighter view allows the book to concentrate on those things that are meaningful in terms of history. It is true to its title in being a bit irreverent and, in spots, quite funny, and the last chapter of the book, which covers what it calls the "soap opera" of the monarchy, discusses the married life of the English monarchs from William The Conqueror on. As an overview I found the book to be a delight and felt a bit sorry to have finished it. The book is very well narrated and I recommend it as a overview of English history with the warning that if the reader wants a real history rather than an overview he or she should consider other histories. I think that this book works best as either an initial overview to allow the reader to decide which part of English history to concentrate on or a summary for those who are already largely familiar with English history. With that caveat I feel warranted in recommending it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Munich

  • A Novel
  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 874
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 810
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 806

Hugh Legat is a rising star of the British diplomatic service, serving at 10 Downing Street as a private secretary to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Paul von Hartmann is on the staff of the German Foreign Office - and secretly a member of the anti-Hitler resistance. The two men were friends at Oxford in the 1920s, but have not been in contact since. Now, when Hugh flies with Chamberlain from London to Munich, and Hartmann travels on Hitler's train overnight from Berlin, their paths are set on a disastrous collision course.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping

  • By Jean on 01-29-18

Revisionist view of Neville Chamberlain

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This is the fourth Robert Harris novel that I have read. The first was Fatherland, a wonderful book that was part science fiction, part historical novel, part mystery and part thriller, and I decided that this was a very good author and I would read more of his books. The second book was Imperium and that was good enough that I felt vindicated in my initial view, but after that The Ghost Writer made me question my initial views and now Munich, a book I anxiously waited for, has made me wonder exactly what Mr Harris is trying to say here.

Neville Chamberlain was the last of the three British Prime Ministers that led Great Britain and the world to the tragedy that was World War II, and perhaps was not the most culpable of the three, but he is portrayed in this book as a realist who understands that Great Britain is not prepared to fight a war and thus does what he can to delay the war until Great Britain has re-armed. The problem with this view is history itself since Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer when Baldwin was Prime Minister and it was Chamberlain who prevented the UK from spending the necessary money on defense and thus being ready for any war. Thus to present him as a realist who is trying to deal with a situation he found himself in ignores the fact that he was largely responsible for those decisions and continually ignored warnings from true realists like Churchill and Eden that Hitler was arming and getting ready for war.

The writing itself is, as usual, very good and Mr Harris has woven history into a story concerning two friends, one British and one German, who find themselves trying to find a way to prevent war when dealing with a government bent on conquest, but the story of these two friends lacks the depth of the story in Fatherland and the two people involved never really feel like real characters. There are some surprises along the way, but they too do not feel real and this book comes across as a poor mirror of Mr Harris' previous books.

The best I can say about this book is that the narration is very good and lends suspense to the tale, but the tale itself would be better if it did not contradict history so much. World War II cost the lives of 50 million people and those responsible should not be white-washed.

  • The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789

  • By: Edward Larson
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 191
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 189

Although Washington is often overlooked in most accounts of the period, this masterful new history from Pulitzer Prize winner Edward J. Larson brilliantly uncovers Washington's vital role in shaping the Convention - and shows how it was only with Washington’s support and his willingness to serve as President that the states were brought together and ratified the Constitution, thereby saving the country.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A readable history

  • By Jean on 10-21-14

US Constitutional Convention

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-31-18

This book takes a close look at the reasons for and the actions of the US Constitutional Convention that changed the US from a loose confederation of independent states to a more Federal form of government. Those who have read the history of the US after it won its independence from Great Britain will not find much new here, but Mr Larson's writing is fresh and interesting and he spends considerable time discussing the various views on whether or not the US needed to change its form of government, how a consensus was formed and how the various political groups came to the decisions that they did. And, of course, there is the interesting story of how Rhode Island alone did not even bother to send representatives to the convention.

George Washinton is at the center of this book and it is clear that he was the indispensable man of this period. It was only his presence and the knowledge that he would be the first President and the one to establish the traditions of office that convinced many of those present that the change to Federalism was worth taking the chance. There is also the well known story of the need for a Bill of Rights, argued against by Madison and others as being unnecessary, and the story of how it was passed after ratification, this time with the help of Madison at the urging of Jefferson.

The one thing I found odd about this book was the author's contention that George Washington was generally viewed as not being involved in the effort to convene the Constitutional Convention while he was, in fact, very heavily involved with both the effort to convene the convention and the actions of the convention itself. I found this odd because every biography of Washington that I have ever read made a point of his efforts to change the US from the lose confederation it was to a more centralized form of government. No book on Washington I have ever read said that he was only an uninvolved planter in the years when the confederation was failing due to its inability to function as a normal central government, yet the author says that this was the general view.

Still, Edward Larson has written a book well worth reading, even by those who are familiar with the years after the US war of independence and before Washington's swearing in as its first President. The narration is very good and the story worth re-telling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful